Review Your Incenses

Thanks to Claire for this idea, a place where you can review incenses you like or dislike, particularly those we’ve not touched on here. – Mike

584 Comments

  1. Peter Bartlett said,

    August 12, 2022 at 1:11 am

    I’ve just had my first bad experience with a Temple Of Incense product.
    Their Vetiver Dhoop cones are appallingly smoky and crudely scented. It’s hard to believe that they come from the same stable as their incense sticks..I was honestly concerned that they would trigger the smoke alarms.

    • Mike said,

      August 12, 2022 at 8:43 am

      Cones are a whole different animal. I like the vetivert cones because I genuinely love vetivert, but for the most part I don’t like the format at all. In TOI’s case it’s like charcoals it really depends on whether you like the oil mix.

      • Peter Bartlett said,

        August 12, 2022 at 11:09 pm

        Yes, they are not for me Mike.
        On the other hand their new Oudh Exreme is superb. Complex and powerful. An unwrapped, unlit., stick scents all of our upstairs area.
        I bought a pack of the Tulsi too. Still getting to know that one.

  2. scandojazz said,

    January 16, 2022 at 3:00 am

    I’d like to mention an incense seller that has a shop on Etsy. The name is Flowers Of India. Ain, who is from Estonia is working with a small Indian village producer. While I am a big fan of halmaddi/mattipal used in the base of masala sticks, FOI doesn’t use any, yet there is a fullness to their scents which are very pleasing and deep.

    I’ve tried 3 of their sticks, 99Herbs, Amber, and Sandalwood. They are all hand rolled and use natural ingredients that Ain has said are edible but doesn’t recommend the eating of the sticks. These are not cheap commercial products and are put together very well. They make a nice change from the halmaddi rich masalas of Happy Hari and TOI and should immediately impress with their quality.

    99 Herbs is not listed on Etsy. You will have to request it from Ain. Highly recommended.

    • January 16, 2022 at 10:29 am

      Could you provide a link, both google and etsy doesn’t show up with a ‘Flowers of India’ store when I searched, even when I dig down 10 pages in the search results.

    • scandojazz said,

      January 17, 2022 at 1:23 am

      99 Herbs is now called Wild Turmeric.

      • February 3, 2022 at 9:24 am

        Thanks for turning us onto Flowers of India. I had 3 problems with my order – 1) In the 3 weeks it took to get here, all the flavors blended together so they all smelled the same. The cinnamon got on all the other sticks. 2) The website claims they don’t use charcoal yet the masala is black. My understanding is soft black masala is made from 50% halmaddi and 50% charcoal. I have not encountered anything other than charcoal that makes the masala black. 3) They run into the same problem as Pure Incense. They are making a quality product but the base is the same on all the scents and so there is very little variation between the 7scents I ordered(Nag Champa, Cinnamon, Amber, Frankincense, Bergamot, Sandal, and Musk) I burn a lot of incense and I’m sensitive to what I call ‘synthetics’, and I encounter headaches, sore throat and irritated nose when I burn things like Satya in my office, but I can burn ToI or HH all day with no problems. By the time I was lighting my third stick of FoI, I had a headache and a sore throat. So I put it off for a day and lit up another 2 the next day with the same result. So something in their incense is irritating to me. Too bad, because I want to like these smaller manufacturers.

        • scandojazz said,

          February 3, 2022 at 7:00 pm

          My suggestion is to write to Ain on the Etsy site. He is a very nice man and answers all questions right away. He does claim that no charcoal is used and only wood powders are used to keep the sticks lit. They don’t use any halmaddi. I’ve had long discussions about this with him. He had never heard of halmaddi before I mentioned it to him. Personally, I’ve encountered no problems with the sticks. No allergic reactions or other irritations. I do think his packaging is terrible. The first thing I did when I got the sticks was separate them and place each scent in its own plastic sleeve and then returned it to its original plastic sleeve. I find no bleeding of the scents into each other. Clear fragrances and deep aromas without the use of halmaddi. This is one of the reasons I suggested them. Please let me know what transpires. You can get my email address from Mike.

          • scandojazz said,

            February 3, 2022 at 7:06 pm

            Sniff, I meant to say I put them in separate plastic sleeves and then returned them to their original paper sleeves.
            Also, I got my sticks in 5 days!! Regular airmail post. Fastest i’ve ever gotten anything from abroad. The U.S. mail system is a wreck at the moment.

  3. Peter Bartlett said,

    November 30, 2021 at 3:52 am

    Ive just burned one of the Rasbihari Lal Nag Champa sticks.
    Occasionally my nose has to adjust to a new scent, which results in my not being able to smell much to start with..that might be happening here.
    But otherwise this is an extraordinarily muted Nag Champa. More like the ghost of a N.C.
    The best I can say is that I am sure that it contains no synthetics!
    So the line in general is proving to be a very mixed bag.

    • Mike said,

      November 30, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for keeping your thoughts coming Peter! These will all be quite helpful when I make an order.

  4. william273 said,

    November 22, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Just wanted to push some good Nepali tebitan Rope incense I recently got. Asta Mangalum, Austasugandha, Spiknard and Vajra Sacred Aroma. The first three are true Nepali Tibetan aromas…strong, pungent and potent…very earthy, welcoming and beauutiful scent. Something along the lines of White Pigeon and the Dhoop Factory Lhasa and Ganden. The Vajra is a hot spicy mix with a hint of bubblegum…at least that’s what comes to mind…think Indian Laxmi Dhoop with some gum mixed in…very nice. The first three are pure Barnyard…heaven on a rope.

    • Mike said,

      November 24, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks William. Was there a company name on any of those? I know sometimes the ropes don’t have them, but without some indication ir picture it can be hard to know what is being looked at.

      • william273 said,

        November 25, 2021 at 7:41 am

        Sorry about that: The Incense Craft is the company name and I got them all from [removed URL] in Nepal…shipping was fast and I got my order in a week. These are some very loud and potent ropes and will leave their scent and aromas for hours after they burn out…more likely all day long. Very strong and not what I was expecting from any Rope. I think you’d do a better job at reviewing them since you have the knowledge. Keep me posted if you do…would love your take on them.

        • william273 said,

          November 25, 2021 at 8:07 am

          About the first three I mentioned Asta Mangalum, Austasugandha and Spiknard…if someone walked into a room that was burning them they’d stop and say Whoa…what’s going on in here? If the Police walked in…it would be like…Nobody move! Put your hands against the wall now!!!

          These three ropes aren’t joking. Mike…I know you’re not sure about White Pigeon and Lhasa but be warned…these are like those but on Steroids…I like them very much though and they may take first place over my love for Tibetan sticks.

        • November 25, 2021 at 9:32 am

          Are you sure that is the right URL for nepa craft? Because when I go there I get a dozen malware warnings and it tries to install plugins to my browser.

          • Mike said,

            November 25, 2021 at 9:34 am

            I hadn’t looked yet but based on Stephen’s warning I removed the URL.

            • william273 said,

              November 26, 2021 at 4:57 am

              I may have accidently spelled it as two words instead of one word…sorry about that if I did and thanks for deleting it Mike.

          • william273 said,

            November 26, 2021 at 4:55 am

            Nepacrafts…one word. Sorry you’re having trouble…haven’t had any problems on my end. If you’re using two words it might be the problem…let me know if this works.

        • November 25, 2021 at 9:35 am

          DO NOT TRY TO VISIT THAT SITE!!! IT SERVES MALWARE. THE PROPER URL IS https://www.nepacrafts.com/

      • william273 said,

        November 25, 2021 at 7:49 am

        Here are some others I got from them.Ratnasambhava, Desert Rose and Kapoor. These are subtle and mellow compared to the others…sandle and cedar type…smooth and soothing and very relaxing…highly recommended…all from The Incense Craft.

  5. Peter Bartlett said,

    November 10, 2021 at 5:07 am

    I have just experienced for the first time an incense from the venerable outfit Ras Bahiri Lal. They are based in Vrindavan which is a pilgrimage city in south India. I have known of them for some time but have only now samples their wares and I am much impressed.
    A note of caution, I have a sample pack on its way, but so far I have only burned one of their line, their Special Radha Kasturi. It is a balanced, and nuanced masala, with musk overtones and I think I detect camphor. The musk is very unlikely to be that obtained from a deer species as Vrindavan is a very strictly Vaisnav town, which means completely vegetarian. Very enjoyable. I look forward to receiving the sample pack..

    • Mike said,

      November 10, 2021 at 6:46 am

      Thanks for the tip Peter! Is there a source for buying these?

    • scandojazz said,

      November 10, 2021 at 7:25 am

      Peter, just a slight correction. Vrindavan is in Northern India, not in the south. A bit north of Agra and south of New Delhi.

      • Peter Bartlett said,

        November 10, 2021 at 3:37 pm

        Thank you Scandojazz.

    • November 10, 2021 at 10:50 am

      Hi Peter, thanks, I’ve been working my way up to buying from Padme Store as they have a bunch of Schroff wet masala.

      One thing about the musk note. My (limited) understanding of the Indian incense market is that the musk smell used is normally from the musk seed, so it is plant-based. However, I also know there is “misk” which is a synthetic musk and based on how much you pay for it, is how good it is.

      • Peter Bartlett said,

        November 10, 2021 at 3:45 pm

        Sniffsincense, I have found them very efficient. And yes they carry a range of Shroff incenses.As far as I am aware the only source in Europe..but I might be wrong.

        • Peter Bartlett said,

          November 12, 2021 at 3:35 am

          It has struck me for some time that it is strange that no incense outlets in the U.K. carry the Shroff line. It’s not as though they are not well known in the incense buying community. Amazon U.K. carried a small selection for a while, but they are now “unavailable”.

          • glennjf said,

            November 12, 2021 at 1:15 pm

            Shroff availability.

            I feel it is well worth it to put this here.

            I was lately informed by someone who in the recent past has emailed padmestore about Shroff availability and was told that the Shroff company is now kaput.

            This will of course need to be independently confirmed with padmestore if someone does so can they post back their result please.

            • Peter Bartlett said,

              November 13, 2021 at 1:29 am

              Really. That’s very sad if true. I have bought Shroff incenses from Padmestore in the recent past. I don’t think there is any indication of supply difficulties on the padme website..

            • Peter Bartlett said,

              November 13, 2021 at 1:36 am

              Ive just checked the website, and in the closing paragraphs of their company profile of Shroff it uses the “to this day etc”..which suggests a still viable outfit.

              • Mike said,

                November 13, 2021 at 8:11 am

                Peter check what it says here: https://www.padmastore.de/%C3%BCber-die-hersteller/shroff-incense-firmenportrait/

                Looks like Shroff is closed, so am assuming what the store has is the last of it.

                BTW I was just contacted by the Padma Store so am hoping to connect via email. Can anyone who has had successful transactions with Padma Store weigh in for me? I’d like to add them to our vendors. Thanks!

                • Peter Bartlett said,

                  November 13, 2021 at 9:19 am

                  Whoops..I missed that para completely Mike. Which doesnt say much for my mindfulness..🙁 What a great pity. Shroff has produced some superb incenses over the years.

                  • Mike said,

                    November 13, 2021 at 10:37 am

                    I can’t speak for the last years of Shroff, but I felt there was a pretty huge recipe shift in the last batch I bought, but I can’t even remember quite when it was, maybe 2016ish. It was wholesale and across every repeat incense I tended to buy in the line (mostly the soft or wet masala line though I think), and it was something of a disappointment, particularly because they were indeed excellent for quite a while and the new ones felt lesser quality in some way. Maybe not in a deal breaker way as I’m considering grabbing some of what is left at Padmestore. But it was enough I started to think of having to rereview everything again and was more or less too out of energy to do that. I ripped through numerous boxes of scents like Pearl, Saffron and others when they were readily available though.

                  • glennjf said,

                    November 13, 2021 at 3:30 pm

                    Good that Padmestore has updated their Shroff information, thanks for sharing that Mike 🙂

                    • Peter Bartlett said,

                      November 15, 2021 at 4:55 pm

                      I am working through my sample pack of Rasbahiri Lal sticks. In a sense I am having to adjust my expectations. I think having become used to the powerful and bright scents of the Pure Incense or T.O.I ranges it is interesting to be reminded of an older style of Indian sticks that have more in common with the Shroff dry masalas than with the oil rich charcoals and masalas of the newer kind. My initial reaction was a slight disappointment. But this gave way to to an appreciation of the more nuanced and subtle style that they represent. I have sampled the Radha Kasturi which is the standout for me, the Oud Absolute and the Darshan. Each have their merits. And each come at you obliquely rather than in a bold uncompromising way as do the T.O.I line for example. I was intrigued to find that despite the apparently more muted style of the scent when the stick is burning the scent remains in the air for a long time. It settles round the room like a soft blanket. It’s somehow stronger 30 minutes after burning. The Oud has recognisably the same scent profile as the T.O.I. Oud, but in a much more subtle form. Not better or worse. To use a musical analogy if the T.O.I Oud is a Beethoven symphony then the Ras Bahiri Lal is a Debussy tone poem. I’m not sure if that helps or hinders..🙂 Anyway the sampling continues..

                    • Mike said,

                      November 15, 2021 at 7:24 pm

                      Thank you Peter, much appreciated. They sound intriguing!

                • william273 said,

                  November 16, 2021 at 12:53 pm

                  Well I just ordered some Shroff from Incense Guru here in the USA and Exotic Incense has some too…not sure if they’re just getting rid of what they have left or if they’re still around for business.

                  • Mike said,

                    November 16, 2021 at 1:01 pm

                    Not sure why they would tell one of their main distributors they were closed if they weren’t, right?

                    • william273 said,

                      November 16, 2021 at 1:09 pm

                      Guess they’re trying to get rid of what’s left. Just found out about them not being in business anymore and I’m trying to decide if I should cancel my order…don’t want to get addicted to something that won’t be around anymore…oh well.

                    • Mike said,

                      November 16, 2021 at 1:13 pm

                      The Shroff labels at Incense Guru are different from what I remember but they were changed pretty frequently, but I would guess they’re probably more recent stock. Honestly I’d enjoy them while you can, so many incenses are fleeting and you do learn to live with the fact some of them disappear unfortunately.

                    • william273 said,

                      November 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm

                      Oh…thanks for the heads-up Mike.

                    • william273 said,

                      November 17, 2021 at 9:41 am

                      I got an email from Ron at Incense Guru and he said they just reordered from Shroff and he doesn’t know what I was talking about as far as them having gone out of business…he hasn’t heard anything about this so I mentioned the Padmestore and the article and am waiting to hear back from him. I don’t mean to be beating a dead horse but I’ll look under every stone to find out if they’re still around….Shroff is worth it for me. I did ask Ron if he reordered direct from Shroff so I’m looking forward to what he says…if not direct then could be a different vendor and well…maybe they aren’t around after all….I WILL FIND OUT…that’s the detective in me.

                    • Mike said,

                      November 17, 2021 at 9:49 am

                      LOL the mystery continues. I appreciate you sharing the information. I will only add that I was told many years ago there were two Shroffs making incense in India, there’s a Shroff and then the Shroff Channabasappa companies. I even got an email from the other Shroff once. So I’d be curious if and when you do get the new incenses if the label makes the distinction. One thing I have noticed is Incense Guru seems to stock the dry masala sticks but I don’t remember seeing the wet masalas like Saffron in his catalog. Best of luck in whatever you find out, as I’m sure I’d be interested in a restock when he gets them in myself!

                    • November 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

                      My understanding is Incense Guru gets most of his incense from the women over at “Incense Sales” in SLC Utah. They have a warehouse full of what I consider to be the crappier flavors of Schroff, and because as far as I know, they bought that supply back in 2014, the incense has been sitting in the utah desert getting hot and cold every day in a warehouse.

                      I have a wholesale account with them and found them to be too drunk to deal with in any real way. They sell mostly counterfeit incense or incense that is so old it doesn’t smell like anything and they also tend to supply most New Age bookshops with “Tibetan” incense that is absolutely the worst.

                      Ron at Incense Guru never responded to me years ago when I sent a nice email explaining that I figured out his Bhutanese incense is counterfeit Nado coming out of Nepal and he ignore me and still sells the counterfeit Nado on his site as “Bhutanese” even though if you buy it, the boxes come with labels saying “Made in Nepal” stuck over top the Nado box that says “Made in Bhutan.”

                    • drummagick said,

                      November 17, 2021 at 12:58 pm

                      Remember that Schroff and Schroff Channabasappa are two different companies. Schroff Channabasappa was the company making those wonderful semi-dry and wet masalas.

                    • william273 said,

                      November 18, 2021 at 4:44 am

                      Sniffsincense…that could be true about Incense Guru getting their incense from Incense Sales…never know these days who owns what or where it’s coming from. Yea…I see plenty pf knock-off incenses around. I asked Ron earlier if he ordered direct from Shroff and he kind of side-stepped my question and said he just ordered 2 months ago but didn’t say if he ordered direct so I sent another email asking that….am waiting for his reply. So far my business has been good with them I’m happy to say and hope it stay that way. At the same time I’m trying to buy my incenses direct from the manufacturers when possible and eliminating the knock-off brands. Thanks for the information…learned a lot here.

                    • william273 said,

                      November 18, 2021 at 4:53 am

                      Mike…I’m starting to get an uneasy feeling about it all…with the two Shroffs and where they’re actually coming from. I’ll keep you posted when my order arrives and what I think. This is becoming more troublesome than I thought…all the knock-offs and under the table dealings…I don’t know what I’m getting from who anymore but I do know to do my research as best I can. Am glad you brought the website back up though!

                    • william273 said,

                      November 18, 2021 at 4:55 am

                      Drumagick…thanks for the heads-up!

                    • william273 said,

                      November 19, 2021 at 5:37 am

                      Well I got my order from Incense Guru and they mention they get their Sharoff from Incense Sampler Works. Ron said he would look into it more to see if Sharoff is still in business.
                      I got the Amber 707, Green Dunbar and something else and the lables only mention Sharoff…nothing about Channabasappa and Sons so I assume this is the knock-off. It smells fine to me but I am looking for something more pungent and stinky.
                      I still have a pack of Kala Golden which I love and used to have another Kala that was very pungent and would rival any Tibetan incense…it was up there with the best of stinky shoes and socks, barnyard funk and all but it’s all gone now I’m so sorry to say.
                      I do have some more Indian coming and also just got some good Rope and three Tibetan Cone incenses from Incense Traditions I’ll talk about here shortly in the proper catagory topic section.

                    • Mike said,

                      November 19, 2021 at 9:22 am

                      Hi William, it’s interesting because either Incense Sampler designed those labels or had the company do them for them as they look made to specification. I do notice in this particular batch (you can see better pictures of them at Walmart of all places) they have a lot of crossover names with what I remember but then 1 or 2 that don’t. But I think like Steven said somewhere else incense can sit in stocks for a very long time so if you ordered it through the chain it’s probably difficult to know how old that stock is and it’s really likely it just came from when they were open. Look forward to your comments on your new purchases!

                  • william273 said,

                    November 17, 2021 at 10:02 am

                    Oh God…two Shroff’s? That’s all I need to add to the confusion…I’m lost just tracking down one of them…will the real Shroff please stand up! My order shipped from Incense Guru yesterday and should get it in a couple days and will keep you posted…I know about the lables…the old ones anyway. I looked at the Padmestore but it was in German so I translated it but only saw a small article about Sharoff that mentioned at the end they were no longer around. I noticed you mentioned some other thing in the article that I didn’t see…maybe I saw a different one or something got lost in translation.

                    • Mike said,

                      November 17, 2021 at 10:07 am

                      LOL yeah. The one we’re seeing the great incense from is Shroff Chappabasappa, I had gotten the impression the other Shroff were more overtly synthetic, but it has been so long since I heard any information it’s all a bit fuzzy. Not sure what you mean about the other thing, but happy to clarify if I can.

                    • william273 said,

                      November 20, 2021 at 8:10 am

                      Thanks for the info on the lables…the new ones don’t look like the old ones I have and the Aber 707 lable is just a sticker that’s stuck to the pack that only says “Amber 707″…nothing else and it doesn’t look like the packaging on the Incense Guru website…it smells ok though…a thick stick like a Nag Champa with a light color to it.
                      I also have some Japanese incenses I never burned much which I might be more ready for now for some reason. They smell just fine…I guess I was looking at them with my Tibetan glasses on…seeing them from a Tibetan point of view which is totally wrong…no I’m not Tibetan but Tibetan Incense is my mainstay and favorite.
                      I’m going to try the japanese again but this time around I won’t go in with any preconceived ideas…no comparing it with any other incenses. If I light a stick of any new incense and not think about any others sticks or how they compare to other sticks I get a more accurate experience of what it really smells like. Just smell it for what it is…by itself and not think about other incenses…only the one I’m burning. Ok…enough of me…I’m all over the place…have a ton of new stuff to check out…I could sit here for hours writing about all this but I won’t…I don’t think.

                    • indienduft said,

                      November 21, 2021 at 5:53 am

                      Hello, my name is Ashok. I am the owner of Padma Store from Germany http://www.padmastore.de. I did not read all commants.

                      Regarding Shroff Channabasappa & Co. I tried to order incense this summer per email and did not get any answer. Than I called them by phone and as I understand, they do not longer produce incense. Shroff Channabasappa & Co did allways produce incense on demand. As I understand, they did not sell their incense at the indian market. Shroff Channabasappa & Co is or better was a company like a kind of a drugstore. Perhabs the company profile changed in the years of existing since 1875. You will not find Shroff Channabasappa & Co online webside anymore. Regarding their labels: They will differ from time to time. Each order had different labels.

                      Rasbihari Lal & Sons is not an incense producer like shroff incense. Perhabs they produce some incense, but they sell incense from other producers, too. For example I believe the Absolute line is produced by Haridas Madhavdas Sugandhi.

                      About Padma Store: Around 2012 I wanted to buy incense in Germany and did not get any good quality. Than I ordered from Essence of the Ages in USA. The idea came to create my own webshop for indian incense. Perhabs Padma Store has the best range of good indian incense worldwide in the moment. I try my best to make all good indian incense availible.

                      Any questions. Please contact me info@padmastore.de

    • scandojazz said,

      November 15, 2021 at 11:06 pm

      I am trying to clarify what is meant by a dry vs a wet masala. For myself, wet has always had halmaddi resin added to the mix giving the masala a dough-like consistency. I think some folks refer to hand dipped sticks as wet and they often can leave wet marks in the bag they come in. Wet, halmaddi sticks, if they are not mixed in a good proportion can be difficult to keep lit. For me, dry, is usually devoid of halmaddi unless it is used in very small amounts and the dough is not very pliable. Which are you referring to?

      Another point, and a good one that you are making, is the difference between the in your face scents of TOI and others vs the older halmaddi laden sticks that are often referred to as Flora Bathi. This type of stick is often as you describe, floating like a blanket in the air and is actually my preferred scent most of the time. Sticks like Elif’s Sunflora and Padma’s Rudraksh line of sticks are some of India’s sleepers, deeply satisfying and inexpensive. I think the price of Pure and TOI are outrageous as well as some others that ORS seem to highlight. Plenty of good inexpensive incense from India if you take the time to search and know what you like.

      • November 16, 2021 at 9:34 am

        Believe it or not, my very first Indian style stick that I listened to was just in March/April of this year. I do not have some memory of ancient sticks or even know what glorious halmaddi was like in abundance.

        I started by joining an Incense Exchange subreddit and I got a bunch of Goloka, Satya, Mother’s and they reinforced the bias I had that Indian incense was toxic, cheap, and made for people who have the smell of shit all over everything and need to cover it up.

        Then someone mentioned Happy Hari and I started looking for people carrying it, I bought the Absolute Bliss sample pack back in May and was floored at how good it was.

        Now I’ve reviewed almost 1000 sticks in my personal incense journal, and neither of these brands have ever shown up in any of my looking. Are you purchasing in the US or are these brands that you’re getting from Germany’s Padmastore?

        Are you willing to make a list of sticks you’ve found?

        I have started imagining after hearing multiple people here at ORS talk about the heyday of Indian incense that there must still be makers in India that just don’t let their stuff out to the West. So much has been my imagining, that I’ve been starting to plan a trip to India to start touring different incense factories and meet different incense families and see if all India has modernized their incense industry or if there are some artisanal sticks being created someplace that just don’t get mass-produced enough to make it to the west. My idea is to try to make relationships with those artists and attempt to bring their stuff to people who appreciate it here.

        I have several well-connected Indian friends and my husband was Hanai’d into a Indian family so I think I have enough contacts to get this started, but I’m curious what gems are available in the US currently that I might need to explore?

        • scandojazz said,

          November 16, 2021 at 7:25 pm

          I live in Bangkok and try to buy within Asia because of the insane postage rates that companies charge from the UK and USA. Never bought from Padme store. I tried buying from AB but the package never arrived after 3 months! Lost by USPS!

          The Thai sellers I buy from do not sell internationally. I’ve been lucky getting Padma’a and Rathnams Flora Bathi and I buy directly from Elif in India which is listed on ORS. All of these have halmaddi in their mix. Old style sticks are usually slow burners, fatter than the usual extruded ones and often dusted. As far as your Indian contacts go, it could be hit or miss. Focus on producers in Bengaluru (Bangalore). I think taste in incense develops over years of using. I just want to get the terminology agreed upon when stating wet or dry masala. For me, it is with and without halmaddi, not dipped or not, in oils. Flora Bathi are usually the old style sticks, not New Age scents that perfume a room. Masalas are still a honed craft. Some are just better than others. You can also try another blog ‘Incense In The Wind’ from the UK which reviews plenty of Indian incense and rates them. Many small shops and sellers in the UK.

      • Peter Bartlett said,

        November 16, 2021 at 12:26 pm

        On the Padma.de site the terms used are soft or dry masalas. I will leave Mike and sniffsincense to detail the technical difference, The point I was making is that the Ras Bahiri Lal line has the same dry physical feel as the Shroffs and a similar understated sillage, to borrow a perfumers term..

        • Mike said,

          November 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm

          Right, I would only add that Shroff classified their incenses when EotA used to import them under several monikers like dry masalas, semi-wet masalas and wet masalas. Only they really know why they classified them this way. None of them even at their wettest were old school halmaddi incenses like in the 90s. I was thinking about halmaddi a bit looking at the new batch of AB Natural Beauty sticks as they’re a bit soft to the touch and definitely different from the firmer charcoals but I’ve seen TOI sticks that claim to have hamaddi in them that are still firm to the touch, so I’d guess it doesn’t move the needle much if there are small amounts of it.

        • scandojazz said,

          November 16, 2021 at 7:30 pm

          That seller’s description is not a standard in the incense world. If someone is not familiar with either the incense you mention or the terminology, it is difficult to understand what you are talking about. You as a a reviewer should strive to define the terms that you use. The Ras Bahiri Lal does sound interesting and I will put it on my search list. Thanks.

          • Mike said,

            November 16, 2021 at 7:49 pm

            This is a review your incense page without any reviews associated with it other than what people leave in the comments. In this case Shroff was brought up because they used this terminology in describing their incenses. Since people in this thread leave reviews and comments out of their own interest and good will and since I’m not leaving any reviews in this thread, it is difficult to tell who that is addressed to, but if it’s me there are none of my reviews in this thread and if it’s any of the commenters, then you’re setting the bar too high for this page. Time to ease up a bit.

            • scandojazz said,

              November 16, 2021 at 8:12 pm

              What do you mean by ‘ease up’? The post was addressed to the reviewer. Did I say something out of place?

              • Mike said,

                November 16, 2021 at 8:16 pm

                I’m just saying that comments here are allowed to be informal and that noone who posts needs to be told they need to “strive to define the terms that (they) use.”

          • Peter Bartlett said,

            November 17, 2021 at 2:57 am

            I made a subjective and light hearted response to a product I enjoyed using the terms deployed by the vendors webpage. It was not a peer reviewed scientific treatise. I wouldn’t even describe it as a formal review. I would suggest that if you don’t like my modest contributions to the site that you skip them. That’s fine by me.🙂

            • Peter Bartlett said,

              November 17, 2021 at 7:55 am

              Continuing with another informal sketch of a review 🙂….When I ordered from Padme.de recently I asked for a couple of the Cottage Industries lines to be included. These are from the same stable as the Auroshika brand. But in contrast to the Auroshika lines, which are made in an industrial unit within the Aurobindo Ashram near Pondicherry, the Cottage Industry sticks are made by devotees in small artisanal batches in their own homes. As an aside when my wife and I visited Pondicherry there was a political demonstration going on in the town so we had to take a detour around the outskirts and we saw a lot of the workshops and studios set up by the devotees..Anyway, I have so far burned the Cottage industry Parijat No.18 and the Ketaki No.17. Both are good quality oils in a charcoal base. I don’t have Mike or Sniffincence’s powers of description, but the No.18 is more citrus like., Orange perhaps with a slight rosewood overlay. Very pleasing. The No.17 is lovely. Warm spices and something I can’t put my finger on, but a lovely stick.

              • Mike said,

                November 17, 2021 at 7:58 am

                Thanks Peter. One of these days I need to send an order over there. I wasn’t a huge fan of Auroshika so the distinction with Cottage Industries is helpful!

                • Peter Bartlett said,

                  November 17, 2021 at 9:18 am

                  I wonder if you knew Auroshika in their heyday Mike? Back in the 70’s their Sandalwood and their Maddipal were the equal of the current T.O.I. or Pure Incense equivalents. I assume that at some point a while back they had to chose between a big price hitch or a reduction in the quality of the ingredients.

                  • Mike said,

                    November 17, 2021 at 9:26 am

                    I would guess probably not, but I can imagine they used to be good! My memory says I bought a few probably late 90s-00s. I thought the Shroff info on the Padme Store page was interesting because it implied that natural ingredients have been so reduced, nearly everyone had to go synthetic in some fashion (although I do wonder when this is chemicals vs say using natural ingredients to copy something like is often done with musk). I would guess even some of the better incenses we’re smelling these days are probably just really well done synthetics (if you’ve ever run across one of the fake Happy Haris you can experience when they’re not so good too lol).

    • scandojazz said,

      November 17, 2021 at 11:36 pm

      Sorry, but another correction. The company is named Rasbihari Lal & Sons.

      I don’t see Special Radha Kasturi in its product lineup. They do have a large selection of sticks, but without description. It would seem that their products are probably all village made.

      • Peter Bartlett said,

        November 18, 2021 at 11:12 am

        Special Radha Kasturi are clearly named and described under the Rasbihari Lal selection on the Padma.de website. They are €6.75 per 20 gram packet. Hope that helps. If there are any other details that need clarifying please don’t hesitate to ask.

        • Peter Bartlett said,

          November 19, 2021 at 4:26 am

          Another Rasbihari Lal stick and it’s a very good one called Super Musk Hina. It has a big warm spicy scent. This particular stick is the equal of a T.O.L or Happy Hari in its projection, sillage, and complexity. This and the Super Radha Kasturi are the best from this outfit so far.

          • Mike said,

            November 19, 2021 at 9:22 am

            Thanks Peter!

            • Peter Bartlett said,

              November 24, 2021 at 4:13 am

              In view of the ambiguity concerning Shroffs continuing existence I ordered a selection of the soft masalas from wwwpadmastore.de
              Before I go on, just to be clear, my views of these products are not organised and detailed like those of Mike or Sniffsincense. They are quick sketches, impressions, as and when I burn them.
              So, I have in the last day or two burned Shroffs Orange Blossom and their Saffron. Two very different but impressive scents. The Orange Blossom smells to me more like the orange blossom water used a lot in Middle Eastern cookery. And very nice it is too.With some depth and bottom. The Saffron really smells of that spice. A powerful and pervading scent. I found that one quarter of a stick was quite enough to thoroughly scent our apartment..very enjoyable.

              • Mike said,

                November 24, 2021 at 2:22 pm

                Hi Peter, back in the day I really enjoyed both of those Shroffs. I was never quite sure if they changed recipe. The Saffron used to be one of the “wet masalas” iirc and was bright red and extremely powerful, it felt about as close to the old school halmaddi incense as you could get at the time. The Orange Blossom was one of a number in a series that I really liked and used to buy boxes and boxes of from Essence, and it was a lot of these that felt like there was a huge recipe shift at the very end, so I am definitely curious if that is what is left at the Padme store. I am hoping to make a run over there probably early next month and will try to see if I can pick up a few end run Shroffs for old times sake. Thanks for sharing your impressions as always, much appreciated.

  6. Alan said,

    April 25, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Tibetan King Ancient Medicinal Incense Sticks from EOTA.
    I give this one a definite thumbs up. Though not as rich, this is very much in the style of my no-longer-available 6-year-old
    Medicine King Mandala which was a favorite. It has the quality, complexity and synergy I love about good Tibetans.
    Noticeable saffron, little or no musk.

    • Alan said,

      May 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Tibetan King Ancient Medicinal Incense Sticks from EOTA (continued). I have to temper my first impression somewhat…
      Unlike my old Medicine King, Tibetan King contains some powerful (to me) medicine I have not noticed elsewhere. A little is OK, but I cannot really bask in the scent as much as I’d like.

  7. March 8, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Kyara Houzan – Shunkohdo

    My first sniff as lighting this there was a salty hit of kyara and then the stick lit and I blew it out and the smoke came out as a soft, sweet, powdery aloeswood reminiscent of Renzan from Tennendo. Then I spent some time and this expertly shifts between sweet and salty unlike other kyaras, giving this major points for uniqueness. My nose is still getting ‘trained’ on Kyara as it’s so rare that right now, my kyara is coming from sticks I buy here and there but my list of Kyara sticks is still under 20 and that means I have little experience to judge this as good or bad but definitely, the range from salty to sweet has happened multiple times while I’ve been writing this and re-sniffing, but one thing that is letting me down around this kyara is that most of the kyara I’ve encountered so far have a oily, resiny note that is definitely in it’s own class. While I know there are five countries of aloes wood and then ‘kyara’, I wonder if the five countries flavors actually apply to Kyara? Because this is different.

  8. william273 said,

    February 26, 2016 at 7:34 am

    If anyone’s looking to try a new Tibetan incense I have a couple suggestions. Dakpa Tamdin is one you rarely hear about or find anywhere. I’m so impressed with two of them that I have to write.

    They seem to have close to ten different incenses and JCrows Market Place is the only one that carries them all. There are a few vendors that carry a couple of them and they are few and far between. I find all of them pleasing…some better than others but there are two that stand out above and beyond any Incense I’ve ever smelled including the high-end Monastery and Medical College incenses.

    The two I’m talking about come in two grades and the grade one of each is the best. They are Shingkham Kuenkhyap grade one red stick and the other is Thribthon Kunsel a short yellow stick. While I don’t have the olfactory senses of Mike and others here to describe them properly I can say they’re pungent and spicy with a sense of cornchips. These are two incenses off the beaten path that deserve more recognition. They’re so rare that only JCrows sells them and I wish it was better known so more people could find out about them…truly two hidden gems if there ever were any. To me they belong in the Tibetan Hall of Fame.

    For any Tibetan lovers out there do yourselves a favor and try these two. I’m also wondering if anyone has ever got a vendor to start carrying an incense they didn’t have as I’m going to try and see if others could start getting these in.

  9. william273 said,

    February 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Just got my sample packs from Incense-Traditions. Have only burned a couple of each so far and have a few more to go so my impressions might change in the future…for the better if they change at all.

    I like the Mindroling very much and it seems similar to Mandala Trading’s “Peace” but more refined and richer.

    Holy Land is really nice but I don’t know where all the talk about barnyard and funk comes from…isn’t in my sticks at all. Much closer to Lama Chodpa to me. Was expecting something like Ganden and Lhasa from the Dhoop Factory or Tibetan Monastery but I’m not seeing any of that…maybe it’s changed as I have heard. Still very good and super rich.

    There’s a Bhutanese Monastery incense also that’s very interesting. Has a mystical and magical aroma with a hint, trace or thread of Cinnamon? running through it. Was expecting something like Nado P but it’s much different. Almost no smoke at all…only way to tell it’s lit is by the aroma and seeing the stick glow. Has a smell I can’t describe or compare it too…never smelled anything like it…almost odorless but not…that’s where they mystical comes in.

    These incenses are almost worthy of worship in themselves…truly the Picasso’s and Masterpieces of the finest incenses. None have any barnyard funk at all…just rich soothing relaxing pleasant aromas. No learning curve for me here…took right to them.

  10. ImpVic said,

    January 13, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    Reviewing: Wildwood 2016, Kyphi 2016, Sandal Oud Agar Antique, Ocean of Night Urrere 2015/16, Naga 2015

    Ocean of Night: A must buy. I had a sample from 2014/15 to compare to the 2015/16 edition and there is a definite evolution to this incense. Without knocking the older edition the 2015 version smells closer to its title. There is a subtle hint of brine and it is less sweet than previous versions. It is a wonderful and “warm” loose incense

    Kyphi 2016: What is there to say about Kyphi than hasn’t already been said? I loved the 2015 version and I love the 2016 edition even more. One of the things I noticed this time around are the wine and chocoloate notes which I can enjoy without being reminded of food neccesarily right off the bat. Buy, buy, buy.

    Sandal Oud Agar Antique: Exactly what the title says. It smells beautiful and for the price it is worth the cost if these scents are your thing. I am trying not to go through this too fast. Highly recommended.

    Wildwood 2016: Now this is what I had imagined Forest Balsam was going to be. I can definitely smell the influence Forest Balsam had on this edition of Wildwood and it has improved this “green line” for the better. I liked the 2014/15 version of WildWood, too of course. The sweeter, fruitier notes that I found overpowering in Forest Balsam are sublimated and give the blend that zing, or pop to the nose. It is a beautiful, icy, coniferous blend and I hope Mermade continues in this tradition for all Wildwood vintages to come. BUY.

    Naga 2015:

    I am going to be that weirdo whose nose seems to diverge from everyone else’s. This smelled like hashish. A smell that I am not partial to. I didn’t detect any water or floral notes at all either at a temp below 150 or up to 250 F on the Lotus Heater. 😦

  11. Paul Galli said,

    December 30, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I tried a really inexpensive, but awesome Tibetan incense!
    Called “Unsurpassable Healing Incense”.
    Very floral, herbal, and spicy with musky undertones.
    Roughly 25, nine inch sticks at a ridiculous $8.50 price tag!
    Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

    http://www.tibetantreasures.com/

    Paul Galli

    • Terra Renee said,

      June 28, 2016 at 9:19 am

      This one is AMAZING! I too tried it, and couldn’t believe something so CHEAP smelled better than the $90 Lotus Ground (at least to me). Unsurpassable Healling is strong, but sweet, long burning, musky, and just amazing in every way. This is the perfect meditation incense. I still can’t believe it’s only $8.50! This is one to stock up on, in case they get wind of how amazing their product is and up the price!

  12. Margaret Thorpe said,

    December 26, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Tennendo Propolis Incense – what a delightful surprise!
    In addition to honey, bees make propolis. They gather the resins from sap flows and tree buds, chew it up and take it back to their hives….where they use it as an antibacterial, anti-fungal sealant for undesirable open spaces in the hives. The propolis can then be harvested by scraping it off the sides the beehive or surfaces of the honeycombs, where the bees have applied this “caulk”.
    Tennendo has done just this, and created a beautiful incense with the propolis collected by bees from pine, cottonwood and aspen trees. It is unlike anything I have smelt before. Surprisingly, it does not smell like honey but has this rich, warm, highly intoxicating scent that many would call “balsamic” – but it is not sweet. It is kind of indescribable.
    My only complaint is that the scent dissipates fairly quickly after it has finished burning, it doesn’t linger as long as I would like it to. But fortunately, given the reasonable price, I can just light up another stick 🙂

  13. Terra Renee said,

    December 23, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Sampled several other incenses from Hart’s site. The Dzongsar Be Dur Ya…just WOW! This one bowled me over. It’s super strong and definitely not for a beginner or someone who has a hard time with wild, animalistic, funky incenses. I can’t say I dislike it, but I can’t say I LIKE it either. It might come to grow on me after a few more sticks.

    The Tsurpu Grade 1 Brown is a very soft, yet herbal scent. Even after a few sticks, I couldn’t place the smell. It’s nice, and a pretty good place for someone who likes herbaceous blends and has a sensitive nose.

    Dhe-Tsang is a spicy little thing. It’s herbal, strong, and spicy. Also rather cheap for such a good quality incense. You can tell that this incense is well made. I like it, especially after a few sticks. It easily grows on you, unlike the Dzongsar, which can blow someone away with barely a tenth of the stick.

    Hart’s Highland is great. Very strong musky animal smell. At first, I didn’t like it, but it’s really grown on me a lot. I don’t know if Beth’s Highland smells the same, since I haven’t tried it, but I do know I really like Hart’s. If Beth’s is the same, then Highland is definitely worth the money, even if the formula is different. I never tried to “old” version, so I don’t know. Unless the one I got from Hart is the old version. If so, then it is great. Funky, musky, and strong.

    • william273 said,

      January 20, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Terra…just looked up Hart Broudy to check it out. All I can say is WOW…that’s some “serious” Tibetan Incense there. Only highend incense too…I’ll need to be very careful and use caution browsing his websight…a guy could go broke. None of it’s cheap at all and rightly so and I’m already in love and drooling with what he’s got. I’m awe struck…I mean like he’s got stuff I’ve never heard of and it’s all mouth watering…ouch! Thanks Terra.

      • Terra Renee said,

        January 20, 2016 at 6:50 am

        Don’t thank me! Like you said, a guy (gal in my case) could easily go broke! Order some TOTALLY FREE samples to try what you think you might like. That way you’ll know exactly what you want. I posted this elsewhere, but Hart will also work with you if you let him know what your tastes already are. He helped me find Tsurpu for myself and Dhe-Tsang for my fiance, since he can’t smell weak incense. If you have a particular like, he’ll try and find something similar to it. Like, if you enjoy Lotus Ground, Dzongsar is a VERY complex strong incense you might enjoy. I like Lotus Ground, but it isn’t my favorite (that’s Holy Land) so that might be why I can’t make heads or tails of Dzongsar yet.

        • william273 said,

          January 20, 2016 at 8:33 am

          Thanks Terra…I know once I start I’ll end up buying most of what he sells. Pungent is what I’m looking for…barnyard funk and fun…dirty socks and all. I just like to roll around in all the funk. Friend of mine always says…you still burning those old mops in cat urine.

          I’m amazed at his selection…never seen that many high-end Tibetans in one place except maybe EoA.

          I have some Tashi Lhunpo….Mount Everest and Himalaya Healing that almost brings a tear to my eye every time I burn it…it’s that good….makes me cry. I have most of their incenses and they are all top of the line…pure and clean.

          Another is Shingkham Kuenhyap…grade two is a red stick and grade one is yellow. Pungent, spice and pepper is the name of the game here. Made by Dakpa Tamdin. Tashi Lhunpo makes one too but haven’t tried theirs yet.

          Thanks Terra!

          • Terra Renee said,

            January 20, 2016 at 9:02 am

            Hart just added like 5 MORE high-end incense, except he’s branching out a bit, and these are Japanese and Bhutanese. I dunno what they smell like since he JUST added them, but I’m sure they’re superb since they’re also pretty high end. I definitely want to try the Bhutan sampler pack. It has every Bhutan incense he sells in it, and it lets me try it all without committing to one without knowing it I like it first!

            • william273 said,

              January 20, 2016 at 11:14 am

              If Nado P is in there grab any of his…that’s some of the best Bhutanese there is…IMO.

              Have to put a plug in here for the King of Funk…Dhoop Factory’s Lhasa. That’s about as high end as I’ve gotten and it’s their most expensive incense. It’s a sort of “private” incense for people experienced in this sort of thing. Neighbors might call the police if they got a wiff and they might lock you up…would be worth it though…100% barnyard…heaven on a stick.

              • william273 said,

                January 22, 2016 at 5:20 am

                Terra…have been emailing Hart Broudy the last few days and asked him about animals being used in incense. He told me the Chinese have banned real Musk since the 1990s and it’s illegal now.

                As for Pangolin they aren’t even used. Said there’s an error and mis-translation between Chinese and English. Nagi which means dragon and shells or seashells which are used in incense…not dragon which I guess was confused with the Pangolin and it’s scales. Anyway you can see the words and how things could get confused and mistranslated but from what I remember the animal isn’t used at all.

                He said he has updated this information on his websight. Thought you and anyone else might be interested so I’m passing this on. He’s also sending me some samples which I’m very much looking forward to.

  14. ImpVic said,

    December 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Reviewing holy transfiguration monastery incenae: Spruce island, Byzantium, and tsaritsa.

    I was not impressed by Byzantium and tsaritsa at first. The scent is floral though hard to place and it didn’t bowl me over with strong singular notes like Damascus rose or imperial violet did. However, after a few days I came around. They are a wonderful incense to perfume a room or house with on a burner. One of the interesting things about tsaritsa and Byzantium is that they contain more binder than the exclusively floral resin cakes offered by the monastery. I assume this is due to the fact that Byzantium and tsaritsa aren’t singular note incense and are a combination of various ingredients. They still melt down pretty good and the cakes aren’t the hard white bricks that other orthodox incense can be. You can see the amber and gold resin peeking out from the clay powder.

    Spruce island was a disappointment but then again it was from the cheapest tier of incense holy transfiguration had to offer. The scent was weak, kind of dirty, and not terribly green or piney.
    The 4 bucks spent on it would have been better served going towards either one of Breene’s Wildwood blends or one of Holy Transfiguration’s Best Incense or higher quality tiers. The latter contains many blends of the same name from the cheaper tiers but they are of MUCH higher quality.

  15. Terra Renee said,

    December 21, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I have sampled 4 sticks of Dzogchen Monastery’s Brilliant Gem incense, and WOW! It isn’t as awe-inspiring as Lotus Ground, but personally I would put it up there with Samye. It’s light, ethereal, and has a very smooth and natural smell for a Tibetan incense. You can definitely tell it’s by the same people who made Lotus Ground, that beautiful, seemless combining of herbs is very evident. It doesn’t go in any particular direction, and is a perfect incense for people just starting Tibetan who want a super high quality incense. I am not sure what is in it, but I do not detect a single hint of animal musk or pangolin/nagi. It sings with a pure herbal voice.

    This incense is the crowning jewel of Incense Traditions. Hart Broudy was amazing and sent me 4 free sticks, and I love every one of them! He will send you a free sample as well, and it takes around 5 days (not counting weekends) to get, which is amazing since it’s coming from Canada and it’s the holidays! Hart’s site and incense is well worth buying, and if not buying, then at least picking out some free samples!

  16. 5-MeO said,

    December 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Naga’s Nest is very unique – perhaps my favorite of her blended incenses, save perhaps the perennial awesomeness of Deep Earth. Don’t know how to describe Naga’s Nest except that there are some very exotic notes in there

    • Terra Renee said,

      December 13, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Naga’s Nest (now called just Naga, with added ingredients) is a truly unique and astonishing incense blend. It lasts forever (I still have an old Naga’s Nest jar that’s almost full) and the scent fills the room. It reminds me of the bite of Holy Land with the odd sweetness of Lawudo. My favorite of her blended incense is Dark Goddess, which she just posted a new batch of.

  17. Gregg said,

    December 5, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Every once in awhile, Chia at Kyarazen decides to grace the world with his creations, although I am usually a day late getting there with my order. Fortunately I wasn’t this time, as a tube of each of his latest arrived yesterday in a sturdy, hand crafted box, that kept every stick unbroken over the long journey, amazing when you consider the size of the sticks. The Mysore Sandalwood was as promised, true to the wood, not a sign of the binder noticeable, and was in fact quite the same as heating a piece of top quality wood on a piece of mica would have been. A very remarkable accomplishment, and one I wish the Japanese companies selling sandalwood sticks would follow! The wood used appears to be the more buttery type that Yamadamatsu sells as opposed to the slightly spicier Shunkodoh style, however I believe that is what most sandalwood lovers expect. The other incense, Enko, has a slight cinnamon and tea undertone along with myriad other ingredients which I admit I am unable to identify, probably due more to mastery of the mixer than my unfamiliarity with off the wall ingredients 🙂 No, I’m not going to plead steep learning curve, this is a great incense that isn’t like any other out there. Great job on both! Good luck with your Incense Culture Association!

    • Margaret Thorpe said,

      December 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      My experience of the Forest Balsam was exquisite. I have no doubt that this was the original scent of Christmas 🙂 I “burnt” it all day yesterday (Dec.25th) and my house became a fresh, fragrant forest glen in the deep peaceful trance of winter. I feel like Katlyn really captured the essence with this blend. Marvelous!

    • Chris said,

      December 30, 2015 at 9:13 am

      I was thrilled to be able to buy incense directly from Chia. He is a real delight to communicate with, he shipped quickly and the tubes of incense (Mysore Sandalwood, Enko and Ryusho) were packed with a lot of care.

      Gregg did justice to describing the scents. I wanted to add how serene the atmosphere felt when I was burning Chia’s incense. Having never met him in person, I can only assume that his sticks are imbued with some of his persona. Earlier in the day, I had been burning Ganden, Lawudo and Medicine Buddha from Dhoop Factory. All very assertive. The Kyarazen scents are like a gentle, compassionate hand soothing one’s cares away in the softest, subtlest way.

      Normally a stick of Baika-ju is my bed time incense, but I may mix that up with a stick of Enko, which had me fast asleep within minutes of lighting it.

      Do not hesitate to order incense from Kyarazen. The entire experience is lovely!

    • February 23, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      I missed this sale but your comment about his Mysore, which he sent me a sample of, has me wanting to ask you because you seem to know your sandalwood. So my question is what is up with the Baieido Byakudan Kokoh? I paid a high price expecting something like sandalwood but the sticks I got recently from Japanincense.com smell like a higher quality version of the Kobunboku series. I was somehow let down by this expecting instead something more like the Kyarazen Mysore or even the Essence du Monde Australian Sandalwood. Is my nose just untrained and I’m not picking up some subtlety? This is easily the most expensive sandalwood stick on the market I can think of so I expected more.

  18. ImpVic said,

    December 3, 2015 at 1:19 am

    Received a batch of Mermade’s Forest Balsam and it smells like overripe mangoes.
    It isn’t… what I was expecting as I happen to really like Katlyn’s green line, especially Wild Wood (which is gone now… was wanting to buy some but it literally went out out of stock as I was checking out.) I was expecting those scents turned up to 11.

    Did anyone else have the same experience? Did I get a bad batch?

    I’ve been wanting to get the latest batch of Naga too but I’m hesitant now. On a positive note Copalli Incensio, and Wild Wood, as well as Mermade’s Franks are top notch.

    I also encourage everyone to try out Holy Transfiguration’s incense cakes. They are incredibly long lasting, with pure and strong scents. The cakes melt down to a pool of resinous liquid which makes me think that there is a high floral oil content.

    I have Imperial Jasmine, Royal Violet, Spikenard, and Damascus Rose.
    If you’re looking for pure one note scents to perfume a room for a good long time these will not disappoint.

    • Chris said,

      December 3, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Hi ImpVic.

      I did not get mango from the Forest Balsam. I got winter in the cold woods surrounded by conifers. It was so intense and good, I wanted to immediately order all of her remaining stock. Last night I used some of my older Mermade Winter Woods. It’s a lower key sister to Forest Balsam.

      • ImpVic said,

        December 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm

        Then either I got a bad batch or this is just one of those mixes that doesn’t read well/accurate to my nose. What you’re describing sounds wonderful and I’m quiet disappointed that wasn’t my experience.

        I’ll have to figure out what to do with it now.

        Hopefully Wildwood is back in rare form soon.

        Side note: has anyone tried Holy Cross Hermitage’s blends? I should have some coming in today and would like to compare notes.

        • Chris said,

          December 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm

          Go for her newest Naga. It’s stunning!

          • ImpVic said,

            December 3, 2015 at 5:55 pm

            I’ve been meaning too. Can you liken it to anything for reference?

            • Chris said,

              December 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm

              Hmm. I don’t know what Mermades you have for comparison…

              • ImpVic said,

                December 4, 2015 at 8:46 pm

                Well I have some Copalli Incensio and some of Wild Wood, and Dionysos too.

                • Chris said,

                  December 5, 2015 at 4:16 pm

                  Ummm…no comparison to any of them. It is floral, but an airy, watery, non-powdery floral. It is not tropically narcotic or heavy. It’s uplifting, a touch tangy in an almost citrussy way and quite unique.

    • Terra Renee said,

      December 9, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      How did you get Forest Balsam? I ordered over a week ago and still haven’t got it. How long are Mermade orders generally taking now?

      When I first tried a small sample of Forest, it was great, which is why I wanted a full jar so bad. It smells like standing in a wet forest during a drizzle.

      • ImpVic said,

        December 9, 2015 at 8:50 pm

        How did I get Forest Balsam? I pretty much bought it as soon as it came out. I received mine in 3 days processing included.
        We ARE getting deeper into the holiday season and I figure that the later in the month you order from anywhere it is going to encounter delays due to large shipping volume.

        I ordered some more incense from Holy Transfiguration on the 4th and they do 2 day shipping as well and I haven’t received an update. Granted they might be making a batch right now as we speak so when it gets it gets here.

  19. Paul Galli said,

    October 11, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Have now sampled the Holy Land Incense from EOTA and IT.
    They are quite similar.

    1) EOTA H/L Has that funky hammy, smokey nose with undertones of florals. The stick itself is a bit thicker and lighter in color than the IT version.

    2) IT H/L has more ham and less florals.
    It has a bit more campfire in the scent.

    Although both are really fine, the edge (IMO) goes to the EOTA version because of more florals and a tad less campfire aspect.
    It’s just more elegant and balanced.

    Also tried the Dzongsar and that is one funkmeister of a blend.
    Did like it quite a bit, but not in the same class as Holy land….

    • Gregg said,

      October 11, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      I’m glad you tried both sources of the Holy Land. Beth’s stock of it is/was from a newer batch, which is why I commented that IT’s was “old stock”. I see that IT has just gotten a fresh order in, so future shipments may be more alike. The one thing you will notice when buying Holy Land over time is that it varies from batch to batch. Some batches are very heavy on the musk, some on other elements, which is why I tend to stock up heavily when I run across a batch I like, as Beth can attest. Oddly enough, “Grade 2” Holy Land has always maintained its high level of quality without the variation and you may find that you like that version best, as the “hammy” note is for the most part absent, almost presenting as TMC’s version of Lotus Ground. More floral spice, less costus root, but a similar amount of musk. Also agreed is that the Dzongsar is not as polished, just heap powerful medicine 🙂

      • Paul Galli said,

        October 12, 2015 at 8:22 am

        Just tried the powdered version of the Dzongsar and it worked out quite nicely in my Golden Lotus Heater. Lasts quite a long time…

    • william273 said,

      January 23, 2016 at 6:11 am

      Can anyone tell me who “IT” is? I know about EoA but haven’t heard of IT. Thought Beth was about the only one that sold the highend Tibetans and have recently discovered Hart Broudy.

      • Gregg said,

        January 23, 2016 at 3:31 pm

        My guess is Incense Traditions, which is Hart’s web site, but I could be wrong 🙂 As far as illegal animal trade and China, one could only wish what you said was true. However, one look at the CITES web site will show you otherwise, as China is the destination of a majority of the illegally taken rhino and elephant horn in the world, used as an aphrodisiac. The musk, on the other hand, comes from legally harvested musk deer in Siberia, where it is legal to hunt same. If the monasteries have found a way to replace the musk without it being noticeable, as may be the case with TMC and the Holy Land, then more power to them. I am not in favor of wanton harvest of any resource, be it animal or plant.

        • william273 said,

          January 23, 2016 at 4:12 pm

          Gregg thanks. I’m new to Harts web sight and probably overlooked the IT part. Actually just placed an order for sample packs of Tibetan Medical and Monastery plus he’s sending some free samples too.

          As for the animal stuff…oh well…I’m still hoping it’s a mis translation and mix up of words between Tibetan, Chinese and English but it is what it is. I have to assume since they’re Buddhists they know what they’re doing…animals or no animals…who am I to judge. I don’t live there and don’t know their culture and customs…only what I read about, the news and videos but I’m not there in person to really know but they do and I have faith in them…Tibetans anyway… it is what it is I guess. I’m pretty much a vegetarian and am against any sort of harm to animals. Didn’t mean to bring this up again…thought I had some good news…oh well…so much for that.

          Anyway I’m looking forward to getting my order of the big stuff…major league incense. Thanks again for the heads-up Gregg.

  20. Terra Renee said,

    September 24, 2015 at 8:48 am

    You haven’t reviewed LittleHippieMama’s incense cones, but you REALLY need to. Cones are normally overwhelming, smoky, perfume dipped nightmares, but these are all natural and smell amazing. They ARE smoky, but the smell is amazing and the natural ingredients are superb as well. I also usually take the top or bottom half of a cone and crush it in my mortar and pestle and heat it on the Golden Lotus, where the beautiful scents last longer and don’t smoke. However, heated on a heater, they don’t release the full, robust scent that burning the cone the right way does.

    Some stand-outs are Sweetgrass/Sage cones, Mabon Harvest, and Faerie Frolics. Mermade sells Sweetgrass/Sage, but the others you have to order directly from Pam (HippieMama) via eBay or Etsy. For such amazing quality cones, these are also really cheap. Sweetgrass/sage has a wonderful sweet/natural smell and is great for smudging, while Faerie Frolic and Mabon Harvest are sweet and natural, an excellent offering to the natural world and truly created with love. Faerie Frolics is sure to bring visions of the Fey, and Mabon Harvest will surely enchant you.

    Copal is another favorite, but it is super smoky, so it must be burned in a larger room or outside, unless you don’t mind the smoke (or don’t have an annoyingly sensitive smoke alarm, like I do).

    She can also do custom orders, where you can sample one of each of her cones. You will NOT be disappointed with any of her cones. The only one I’ve come close to disliking was a moldy version of Sweet Dreamy Slumbers, but when she sent me replacement non-moldy cones, I changed my tune and these became some of my favorites as well. Green Tea is certainly unique as well. Not good or bad, just…odd.

  21. Terra Renee said,

    July 31, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Review on Dzonchen Monastery and Nectar (recent release sticks).

    Dzongchen’s Lotus Ground is just…WOW! This is worth EVERY penny. As soon as I get paid, I’m ordering a full double roll box. Something about this incense is just special in ways I never imagined. It’s sweet, musky, a tiny bit floral, and just…WOW!

    Nectar from Tibetan Medical College is superb as well. I usually stuck with Holy Land, but Nectar…there’s just something about it that I MIGHT like better than Holy Land! Holy Land Grade 2, which I still have some of these ginormous sticks, is still my favorite, but Nectar comes in second, tied with Holy Land. I can’t decide which is my favorite. These are VERY special incenses, and I’m VERY happy Beth restocked Holy Land. I don’t care if the shipping time is a month, Lotus Ground and Holy Land/Nectar are worth waiting for.

  22. Paul Galli said,

    June 13, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Review on Samye Monastery Incense Powder.
    Red/rust color. Used in a Mermade Heater.
    Initially starts out with complex, ever changing, peppery, musky elements.
    After about one hour, it settles into a permanent Kyara Candy Cane nose.
    This gives off a scent for hours! Highly recommended!
    Available on EBAY.

    • BringYourOwnBIOS said,

      June 14, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Have you tried the Samye monastery sticks before? I use them on the Mermade heater as well..

      • Paul Galli said,

        June 15, 2015 at 8:00 am

        Will order them soon from EOTA and report back.

  23. Terra Renee said,

    May 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Reviewing my Mermade incense here. The brand-new honey champa is delicious. It smells like molten honey and smells like you could eat it. I put mine on the electric heater instead of lighting it, so I don’t know if it smells differently that way. Their Ensence Antique is also something superb. I can smell the sweet oud and other precious woods. Xochi is, I feel, a bit under-loved. This herbal mix is astonishing. I have literally nothing to compare it to. I can smell the mind-altering herbs included in this mix and they’re superb. The Datura and morning glory are particularly apparent. I ordered a jar of Deep Earth, and this is truly something special. It’s Kyphi x10. If you like Kyphi, Deep Earth will be your new favorite.

    As for my favorite, that would be Luna. The Jasmine is tangy, sweet, and pops out. This is an excellent blend. I received a free full bottle of ScentuALIty and just wow. This amazed me. I can totally understand why these cost so much for so little. I put a tiny amount of powder (not even a teaspoon full) on the burner and the scents just burst into the air around me. If you haven’t tried Mermade and the Golden Lotus heater, please, don’t hesitate. Also, Katlyn is amazing. I got two free gifts (bottle of ScentuALIty and a hairpin/incense digger) and many samples.

  24. Terra Renee said,

    April 28, 2015 at 11:29 am

    My favorite company is BOSEN, despite a lot of their products only being available in Taiwan. Blessing is my absolute favorite of their incenses. It’s sweet, calming, and has a tangy aloeswood scent to it as well. I much prefer the coils to the sticks as well. They last longer and the scent seems to fill the room faster. Since I’m a regular customer, I received a nice sized sample box that had their various aloeswood products, two complete boxes of Blessing coils, and a complete box of Chin-Zhou aloeswood coils.

    One sample was 5 top grade aloeswood sticks in a wooden tube. These were amazing. This was pure, woody aloeswood with no filler or animal musk used at all. BOSEN is an amazing company. Beware of Amazon’s shipping though. They ship recklessly and very slowly. I’ve sadly had to leave bad feedback due to this, but BOSEN kindly reimbursed me with a replacement pack of whatever was damaged without me needing to buy it again.

  25. Christina said,

    January 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Amitabha Buddha Rope: This is the first Tibetan rope incense I’ve tried, and I really crave it now! Most of the Tibetan sticks I’ve tried so far are too complex for my nose to detect individual notes. But this rope…yum! Something in it is syrup-y sweet (sandalwood, maybe? I’m very new at this) and the smoke fills the room with a soft, powdery honey smell that I can’t get enough of.

    I’m looking forward to trying other incense rope varieties, and have included 3 new flavors in my most recent order.

    • william273 said,

      January 31, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Christina you’ll enjoy rope incense. There are a couple others like the Amitabha…Tashi and Lumbini almost identical but each has a slight difference and most any sandalwood rope is good too. Beth at EoA has a ton of rope incense you won’t find anywhere else and a cool rope burner you should get if you’re going to be burning it a lot.

      • Christina said,

        January 31, 2015 at 2:35 pm

        Thanks, William! I’m pleased about your recommendation for Lumbini rope because as it happens I placed an order with Beth at EoA for a Lumbini box set – comes with 50 Lumbini ropes, 50 Lumbini Special ropes, and 7 Lumbini sticks. I also ordered Desert Rose ropes because they have Frankincense, which I adore. Can’t wait to try them and more!

        I have a Tibetan burner that has a spiral for the ropes to lay in, plus a large hole for Tibetan sticks and a small hole for thin sticks like Japanese ones. Such a versatile little burner.

        • william273 said,

          January 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm

          Christina of the three ropes mentioned I personally like the Lumbini the best…just plain hot and spicy. Sounds like you enjoy Tibetan which is pretty much all I burn and have noticed that rope, Frankincense and Myrrh resin all seem to compliment each other somehow. Each seems to make the other stand out.

          If you haven’t already figured this out you will…keep an eye on your money….it can go fast in this area but it’s one passion that I don’t mind watching as it goes up in smoke.

          • Christina said,

            February 1, 2015 at 12:54 pm

            I have resins and some inexpensive Japanese & Indian sticks (and now have some expensive samples on their way to me so I can try the aloeswoods and kyaras), but I find myself reaching for the Tibetans more often. There’s just something about them…so peaceful. I can’t wait to place my next order for some of the Hall of Fame varieties of Tibetans. I’m simply yearning to try them all!

            Yes, I have definitely found myself being miserly with my usual “treat” purchases so that I can spend my disposable income on incense instead. It’s so worth it, though.

  26. January 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Has anyone else tried the Awaji Koh-shi White Lily (by Tahodo)? YIKES. It is … really not good. I picked it up on a whim with my last Japan Incense order, since it was on sale for only $5 – at more than a third off, I guess maybe it’s being discontinued? If so, I can certainly see why. It smells kind of like smoldering bamboo and … uh, weed, frankly. Reminds me of some really low end Tibetans (and I’m not good with that style). On the unlit stick there’s a pleasant enough light floral scent, but I don’t detect it at all once lit.

    Did I get a bum box or is this just really terrible?

  27. Dead Crow said,

    December 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    The news from Jay, who I’m sure will weigh in once the backlog of orders at Japan Incense is filled, is not exactly good for lovers of Seijudo incense. Please say that a 60% price increase is not coming! Not that long time consumers couldn’t see the signs, as kyara and better grades of agarwood became scarce in the marketplace over the last few years. And, yes, I’d rather have the quality remain than receive an inferior product. I just hate to hear that it is finally time to pay up, that a stick of Enju is going to cost me as much as a tank of gas.

    • clairsight said,

      December 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      I checked the Japanese sites, it looks like a 2X price increase on 1-1-15. All things being equal I am surprised they held back this long as all the majors have either discontinued lines of done the same price jump.

      • Dead Crow said,

        December 26, 2014 at 7:47 am

        Well, I spent way beyond my yearly budget stocking up on the sticks I like, due to price and formula “recalculations”, to put it mildly. Hopefully a year from now there will still be some good formulations left, even if at a higher price, and if so, I may add further. Hate to think of a day soon when I can no longer spoil myself, at least a little bit.

  28. Jayadeva said,

    December 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Here’s my first experience with Minorien Fu-in Kyara Ryugen just today:

    “A wet, musky, sweet bubblegum, fungi scent at the first light. And then there it is…a lovely, crisp cedar, woody scent. It surfaces for a moment and then hides back under that strange bubblegum scent. I wonder if that’s the kyara scent that is so elusive. When it rises to the surface it’s so invigorating! It feels purifying and instantly transports me into a meditative state. What special power does this kyara hold? I thought some kyara reviews online were just crazy incense people making stuff up. But it’s really something magical. I wish I could identify all the scents. I’m wondering if that most prominent, first lighting scent is aloeswood or something like that. I wish there was some way to smell pure kyara wood. I want to experience that cedar, woody scent all by itself (or even see if that’s the scent I’m identifying as kyara).”

    There it is.😃

  29. Josh said,

    September 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Having tried the Fred Soll’s, I really dig the following:

    1. Pinon, Cedar and Juniper Berry, Albuquerque Mountain Cedar, Taos Pine, Rosemary & Sage, and White Sage and Dragon’s Blood — these all have a similarity to me – they all present a vibrant fresh wintergreen type aroma – it just takes different forms. The Pinon and Rosemary/Sage seem a little more earthy and savory, for instance, while the Cedar and Juniper Berry and White Sage and Dragon’s blood are really fresh, clean, deodorizing types scents.. They’re all great..

    2. The Frankincense and Gardenia – oh yea, gardenia! Great gardenia smell with just a mellow underlying sweetness that I gather is the frankincense..

    3. The Champa blends are excellent, as is the straight Nag Champa – to my nose they seem on par with Mother’s India, which is the best champa I’ve tried.

    4. The Frankincense and some of the frankincense blends are awesome.. The frankincense is the citrusy type..

    5. Magical Copal – oh hell yea, this one is stellar..

    What I don’t care much for at this point are:

    1. Santa Fe spice – smells to me like fake cinnamon cookie smell or something

    2. Fresh Peaches – smells to me like skunky fake peach scent that is muddied up by the base stick etc. Peaches are my favorite fruit though, I’m really into my peaches..

    3. The New Mexico Sandalwood – it’s ok, but really one-dimensional sicky sweet oil scent – I doubt there’s any actual sandalwood in there or even sandalwood resin.. I like the Sandalwood champa though – the champa cuts that heavy sweetness and it all comes together really well..

    • Terra Renee said,

      July 31, 2015 at 8:27 am

      I’ve been a customer of Fred’s for a long time, and his incense just keeps getting better. I have four different Hall of Fame varieties of Mother’s, and Fred’s Nag Champa (pure) beats the HECK out of Mother’s, in my eyes. Mother’s is special, for sure, but Fred has been a favorite for years. His Frank and Myrrh Ancient Blend and the newer Honeysuckle are truly superb as well. Give them a try if you haven’t. You’ll be blown away!


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